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Schrader Announces Over $12 Million in USDA Grants to Strengthen Oregon’s Specialty Crop Industry

U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) is pleased to announce the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded nearly $12.5 million dollars in grants to support the research, recovery, resiliency and long-term success of Oregon’s specialty crops. 

Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops including floriculture. With Oregon’s diverse agricultural regions, the state ranks sixth in the nation in the production of specialty crops. A large portion of these crops are in the 5th Congressional District which grows over 200 commodities ranging from berries, vegetables, and nuts to nursery crops and Christmas trees.

“I have long been a fierce advocate in Congress to secure funding for Oregon’s specialty crop industry, especially in the face of devastating wildfires, heatwaves and drought. These extreme weather events take an immense toll on crops, leaving our farmers and producers struggling to meet their current and future needs,” Rep. Schrader said. “The USDA grants awarded to Oregon will make our state’s specialty crop industry stronger and more resilient, so our producers and farmers are equipped to overcome obstacles, grow their unique crops and become more competitive in the marketplace.”

Oregon was awarded grants through two USDA programs:

 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) 

A $2,070,526 SCBGP grant was awarded to the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). This funding was authorized through the 2018 Farm Bill championed by Congressman Schrader. It will be dispersed among 15 projects in the state chosen by the ODA to increase demand for agricultural goods and address issues facing the state’s specialty crop industry.

“Oregon is rich in agricultural diversity, and we saw that in this year’s Specialty Crop Block Grant applicants,” said ODA Director, Alexis Taylor. “I sincerely thank all of the applicants for taking the time to apply, ensuring Oregon is well represented at the federal level for its meaningful and innovative specialty crop projects. I look forward to following their progress and witnessing how the work is benefiting Oregon agriculture as a whole.” 

$2,742,867 in SCBGP funding was also awarded to the ODA, authorized under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. For this funding, states are encouraged to prioritize projects that respond to COVID-19 impacts, including ones which respond to risks and supply chain disruptions. ODA is finalizing additional projects for this funding and will make award announcements in the coming weeks.

Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) grants program

$7,650,818 was awarded to Oregon State University through the SCRI grant program. As one of 21 recipients for this grant across the country, the funding will help OSU researchers and a team of West Coast university collaborators study the impact of wildfire smoke exposure on grapes. This four-year project funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will provide critical knowledge to Oregon’s grape growers and winery owners who are looking for solutions that will protect the quality and value of their products.

“This USDA SCRI grant allows us to expand our partnership with the Oregon wine industry and regional partners in Washington and California to improve understanding about the impact of wildfire smoke exposure on grapes for science-based decision making in the field,” said Dr. Alan Sams, Reub Long Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University. “As the state’s land-grant institution, it is our mission to advance research that helps Oregon’s agriculture industries like the wine sector thrive, and protects the many livelihoods that rely upon them. We are excited to get to work and appreciate the support from Oregon’s congressional delegation.”